When Jacquette appeared at the quay, scantily dressed, looking as though she was desperately fleeing a pursuer, she could have been mistaken for one of the sirens who devoured sailors.
She wore no mask. She openly acknowledged that as a sex worker of some renown her body was a well visited temple. Now it was time to restore some of the inevitable wear and tear.
Perhaps it was my silence that drew more from her. She felt the need to clarify that she had no regrets about the choices she had made, took pains to explain that what grieved her most was the judgements she had been subjected to, the demonizing that she had faced.
She said that she had been shamed and ostracized by hypocrites who had no qualms about having endless affairs and wrecking relationships, who happily charge exorbitant prices for their so called skills. She maintained that it was hard work but she was good at what she did, that surely it was time to shake off old fashioned stereotypes, deep seated mythologies and damaging stigma.
“There’s so many parts to me and people need to see the whole person, not just sex. This is one thing I do, it’s one part of me. I’m also a mum, a sister, a daughter, a really great crochetter, a writer of gothic tales. I am a great aunt and spend lots of time building amazing Lego landscapes with my nephew”.Jacquette
I listened and simply wrapped her body, shivering with emotion, in a warm cloak, making sure to slip a card featuring an image of Aphrodite in the pocket. Quietly I guided her to the boat to the Isle.
It was late when Jacquette and I moored on the quay and, given her fragility I had booked rooms at the small inn, whose landmark Gargoyle maintains a watchful eye on the harbour. I also hired a donkey to carry her up to the Abbey at first light.
The hotelier, an intuitive witch, suggested that before retiring for the night Jacquette might get a message from ‘The Hand’. The disembodied, tatooed Hand emerged from a portal to a shallow cave that extended below the floor. Fairy lights strung all across the cavity cast an eerie glow on the dozens of dismembered Barbies that were placed along the walls.
The Hand loves to tell fanciful tales, to anyone willing to listen, about how visiting Tarot artists and the creators of the Adams Family had gained inspiration from her. We knew to listen attentively and compliment her on her far reaching impact, flattered her by telling her that she was a most seductive muse.
As the Hand presented a card title ‘The Curse’ Jacquette fingered the small card with the image of Aphrodite that I had slipped into the pocket of her cloak. “It’s not Aphrodite who has placed a curse on your ancestral line” said our hostess. “It’s more like the handiwork of another goddess. They have a long history of being spiteful towards women with strong Aphrodite energy. Identifying so closely with her can, as you well know, bring challenges.
No sooner did our hostess speak than the Hand produced another card.
The promise, the assurance that many paths would be made available to Jacquette here on the Isle had an immediate effect. The transformation in her whole demeanor was enough to lift all our spirits. As we gleefully high fived, we downed shots of aged whiskey.
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
I smiled as the gallant Knight dismounted, bowed low and offered to be of service. Baba Yaga has her three horsemen! I have four knights! This straightforward fellow is ideal to travel with but, given the harsh terrain I suggested his handsome steed, a flighty lady was too valuable to make the trek along rocky paths to the Abbey.
“Just let me slip into more practical gear” said the knight. “I am more than willing to companion you ladies and help set up camp sites.”
I smiled! Jacquette’s charms were clearly at work. Or was that Aphrodite I had heard whisper in his ear long before he arrived? This has her signature written all over his display of chivallry.
As the Knight helped pack all our provisions on Caspian, the sure footed, steadfast donkey who was accompanying us to the Abbey, I pulled out my pocket travel tarot deck and, before doing the spread shown here, called upon Jacquette to make an offering to Hekate, the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy.
I called upon Hekate because in her form as a triple-goddess, she is strongly associated with the crossroads. This Goddess possesses extensive powers and can bestow wealth and blessings on her worshippers. However she can also withhold these gifts if she is not adequately worshipped.
Given that the old inn where we have been staying lies on the crossroads it was a no brainer to seek her support. There are a few ways to traverse the mountain. Some routes take longer than others and given that Jacquette is at a personal crossroads, considering major life change, Hekate seemed the obvious choice to ask for guidance.
We sang a hymn, calling upon her for directions and guidance.
Favored of Zeus.
You who have a share of earth, sea and sky.
Goddess of the moon-conjuring witches of Thessaly,
Flame-bearing guide, minister of the crossroads.
Hail to you.
Hecate, I make this offering to you
that you may look upon me with favor.
Great goddess, guide my fortunes.
grant me luck and skill,
gift me your empowering hand.
By Jeremy Baer
The response from Hekate was far from definitive. It would be up to Jacquette to consider the options and decide. However, it was the Temperance card that spoke to Jacquette.
“I am ready” she said quite assertively. “I certainly could do with some balance in my life. It has all become harder and utterly exhausting. It will take some time for me to adapt and adjust. The life I have lived is the only one I know but it is getting harder to maintain the illusion. I don’t actually have many other polished skills. If you are happy to travel slowly with me I would like to take the longer winding path”.
The slower path meant traversing heathery marsh, tracts of rock and pines, woods of silver birch, all bejeweled with golden leaves at this time of the year. There are sacred, secret circles to be found in the birch forest, inhabited by the Fae and some heavenly species of fungi.
We simply nodded in agreement and since the Knight had finished arranging the pack on Caspian we turned towards the path that would pass through places where Jacquette might gain the support she needed to adjust.